Have you ever tossed oatmeal, milk powder, or lavender flowers in your bathtub? Why did you do it? Was it because you thought it might provide some relief from itching or psoriasis or chicken pox? Perhaps you’ve sprinkled some lavender or peppermint essential oil in the tub to help you relax or wake up. This was all I ever thought of when I thought of an “herbal bath” — remaking a commercial product, like colloidal oatmeal or lavender bath salts at home with ingredients I already had around the house.
That is until I read Kami McBride’s book How to Create Healing Herbal Baths. Kami has an innovative approach to creating healing herbal baths that is inspiring and engaging. This is a short book that can be read in 30 minutes. But don’t let its brevity fool you. It is rich in herbal ideas and healthful, creative inspiration.
When I first saw the title of Kami McBride’s book, How to Create Healing Herbal Baths ,You Deserve It, (2014) I thought it was a book about making bath salts, bath bombs, bath oil, and other mixtures of fragrance with salt or oil. There are a lot of other books like that already. So I was thinking when I downloaded the books and resources from this year’s Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle, that I already knew what Healing Herbal Baths was about.
I was wrong. Essential oils are not mentioned at all nor are salts, clays, baking soda, starch, or even soap. Instead Kami has offered us a delightful, cup of herbal tea, and an intimate journey into her garden and her very personal bathing and self-care rituals. The cup of tea is the size of a claw foot bathtub, served in a secluded corner of her garden.
Kami lives in California where the climate is ideal for outdoor bathing, year-round gardening, and abundantly growing herbs. Hedges of lavender and rosemary are available in Kami’s garden, along with rose bushes, to aid in her bathing self-care rituals. Her healing herbal bath rituals follow-through in nurturing her garden, both with the spent herbal waters, and with the composted herbs, emphasizing sustainability.
Bathing isn’t just for cleaning off the dirt and stink. Baths are a useful daily practice with many health benefits. Healing herbal baths are useful self-care rituals for
- Releasing and relieving stress
- Healing skin issues
- Bringing clarity to the mind
- Energetic cleansing
- Connecting with the seasons
While Kami’s presentation of healing herbal baths is innovative, the idea isn’t new. Bathing rituals are steeped in culture and history: The Jewish mikvah, ancient Roman communal baths, Japanese baths, for example. A friend once told me of growing up during the post war years in Holland and going to the community pool for her Saturday bath. In fact, our modern community swimming pools are the child of those ancient bath waters. It reminded me to be grateful for the two bathtubs in my house.
3 Types of herbal baths
Kami mentions three types of herbal baths in Healing Baths. These are really techniques to get the good fragrance and vitality of the herbs from your garden into your bathtub. If you don’t have a garden you can certainly use purchased, dried herbs for these bath recipes.
Add herbs and flowers directly to the tub
What I love about Kami’s method is that you can use fresh herbs that you pick seasonally in your garden, and get good results. So much of herbal craft requires you to first preserve the herb by drying, before going on to tincture making, or infusion. Kami’s method removes the extra work.
In fact, using this method you can take a walk in the garden, snip off a small basket of herbs like rosemary, lavender, sage, jasmine, or rose petals, run the bath water and toss the whole basket into the bath. If you happen to have a bathtub in a secluded spot in the garden, you can enjoy your bath outdoors without even walking back into the house. Sounds like a scene from a movie, doesn’t it?
Place a bath tea bag under the running tap
The second method uses dried herbs that you preserved from the summer garden. This method is less messy, utilizing a muslin bag to hold dried herbs, like a tea bag, but bigger. This is a really good way to use up last year’s dried medicinal herbs, in order to make room for this year’s herbal harvest. Peppermint leaves that aren’t as fresh as they used to be can be added to the bathtub before being composted. That lemon verbena that been sitting in a glass jar in your pantry for eons could be bath tea material. Kami offers a short materia medica of the best fragrant herbs for herbal baths, that might already be growing in your garden.
The dried herbal tea bags can be used up to 3 times before being emptied, washed, dried, and refilled. Kami shares some lovely gift ideas with these herbal bath teas in the final chapter of the book. I was inspired by these caring gift ideas.
Make a potent herbal infusion and add it to the bath
The third technique Kami uses is making a strong infusion of the bath herbs in a large stock pot, and letting it steep for hours. Then she adds this strong infusion to the bath water. This is a little less accessible because it involves carrying gallons of water to wherever your bathtub is located. However, the resulting infusion is stronger and more medicinally active. This would be the best herbal bath for sickness or acute stress. The strong herbal infusion is full of vitality, ready to be absorbed by your skin, bringing healing.
Who is Kami McBride?
You may remember that I introduced my readers to Kami McBride back in February when she offered a free video course, “Spice Rack Remedies to Take Care of Your Health Naturally”. Kami is a vibrant, amicable, and passionate teacher. She is a clinical herbalist, with 25 years of growing herbs and teaching about the use of herbs at the master’s level. Her herbal classes focus on sustainable wellness practices and renewing our relationship with the plant world. Her book The Herbal Kitchen is available on Amazon.com. You can connect with Kami online here.
Would you like to learn more about using garden fresh herbs in your daily self care? Each week I send out a newsletter loaded with herbal recipes, tutorials, special offers, and encouragement to help you use herbs and essential oils for daily health and wellness, with confidence. Get my free ebook, when you subscribe
Photos used with permission from Kami McBride.